Ask Me Anything

Just a couple of days ago, I was sitting in a coffee shop when I overheard a customer ask the cashier “What is cold brew?”

I recoiled in shock and lost all focus on my book.

All I could think was “How could you NOT know what cold brew is? It’s everywhere!” I was stuck in what I describe as the “Observer’s Pit” (in where a person wallows in disgust/surprise/sadness or even horror at something they overheard.) But I looked down and realized how shallow the pit was that I occupied. I put my hands on the edge and pulled myself up to look around. How could I be such a hypocrite? Even I was once enlightened as to what that strong, effective beverage was. I had asked that very same question, murmuring it into my sister’s ear. My disdain disappeared as I felt admiration surge through my chest at the customer’s brave curiosity, remembering how it felt to have a burning question soothed by a kind or patient answer. This instance also made me wonder: when did it become such an unusual occurrence to boldly ask questions outside of the classroom?

With such technology as iPhones, Siri and Google this modern world is becoming accustomed to the convenience of knowing everything. If you don’t know, just Google it. We have the entirety of man’s knowledge at our fingertips, ready at any time.  But I realize now that these empowering technological advancements are also degrading to society in manners that we can’t always notice right away. For one, my patience is smaller than it used to be. I want my question answered NOW and Google complies within 0.45 seconds.  Even as I write this post, I am utilizing that helpful search bar to expand my vocabulary. Second, my social skills are weakened by the reduced levels of daily interaction . I’d like to think that talking to someone is as easy as riding a bike, something I’ll always remember – but that’s not true. Social interaction is something that needs to practiced often –  just like learning a new language. If you don’t practice what you know, you can easily forget it. Mankind’s common disdain for ignorance has proved to be useful in the advancements of technology, but has caused society to take two steps back in communication abilities.

But society hasn’t been in these depths of conversational despair for very long. Consider for instance, when we were children – we didn’t have Google for our every question. What did we have?

Our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, mentors, and teachers.

Our curiosity was delivered upon the many guides in our life who patiently answered our every question to the best of their ability. Humans instinctively ask questions when there is a lack of information. Think back to when you were young and came upon something new and intriguing. Most likely, you turned to the nearest adult for answers. They in turn would respond with their best answer or a useful recommendation that would help. Granted, there were quite a few questions that were answered with “we’ll revisit that topic when you’re older” or “just because”. But as a result of our curiosity, we bonded and grew to respect our knowledgeable elders. We learned to ask questions of those we trusted. Once we entered the beautiful world of education, we learned HOW to ask questions of almost anybody. And then, alas! The bittersweet moment we were introduced to the all-knowing internet. How fast! How intriguing! How convenient! How…..isolating.

It is a neglected fact that technology and the internet are not only draining our attention spans and patience levels, but our social interaction skills too. While the internet has gifted mankind with access to more information than we could process, the side effects are slowly and devastatingly harmful.

So here is my challenge to you, dear reader. When you have a question that is burning the inside of your skull – you need a definition, a recipe, or directions – ask someone nearby instead of typing it into Google’s hungry search bar right away. Also, use an open and inviting mentality towards others so that in the case where YOU are asked a question, you are prepared to give your best response possible. Our curiosity should lead us to social interactions such as conversations and new experiences – not encouraging isolation, everlasting browsing and disdain at other’s ignorance.

If you are at a loss for an answer and end up requiring the mighty search engine’s help, there is no shame. But if possible (in this busy life of ours) take the time to include someone else in the pursuit of knowledge. Often you will discover that by posing your question to someone (a friend or even a stranger) that you will not only gain experience in  social interaction, but you just might be given something unexpected: advice, kindness, or maybe a simple, but powerful smile.

Imagine how united our communities would be if we should all revert to natural human tendencies by relying on each other more often. It is not weakness to rely on others in the pursuit of knowledge, rather it shows that we understand the importance of social interaction in our society as a whole.

Think about how YOU can improve your social interaction level.

I’ll see you again in the next chapter.

-CB

“However high we climb in the pursuit of knowledge we shall still see heights above us, and the more we extend our view, the more conscious we shall be of the immensity which lies beyond.” –William George Armstrong

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